A systems thinking approach builds great understanding of complex issues and is a great tool for engaging and activating the community.
The Sport and Recreation setting was a new priority area for the Latrobe Community Health Service. Research was required to understand the barriers that have led to only 42.5% of Latrobe City residents achieving the recommended levels of physical activity required to promote good health.
Two Systems Mapping workshops were used to generate data using modified templates developed by Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre. 31 participants collectively contributed to answer the question, “What are the barriers to physical activity in Latrobe Valley?”
Workshop participants were able to describe the physical activity barrier, how this affected other factors, and whether the relationship was positive or negative (shown in the diagram as an unbroken, or broken line respectively). Using this information, a Causal Loop Diagram was generated using the Stick-E software.
A steering committee was also formed from interested organisations already working in the public health or sport and recreation settings. Several of these members had previously undertaken training from the staff at the Global Obesity Centre and had conducted systems mapping on other topics, such as sugary drink consumption in Latrobe Valley.
Sport Australia - the federal government department for Sport and Recreation, has identified that physical, psychological, social and cognitive factors all contribute to an individual’s ability to improve their physical literacy. Current programs and initiatives were also identified, and categorised using these physical literacy themes, and two additional themes of Environment and Time factors.
62 factors were identified and were allocated into each theme as:
- Physical Domain – 6
- Psychological – 14
- Social – 14
- Cognitive - 4
- Environmental - 12
- Time Factors- 12
Encouragingly, 45 current local programs and initiatives were identified as having a positive impact on participation or aim to reduce some of the barriers to physical activity and sport in the Latrobe Valley. More importantly, 27 potential future projects were also identified.
For a copy of the causal loop diagram for physical activity in the Latrobe Valley contact the Health Promotion team on 1800 242 696 or via email.